Category Archives: Ottawa

My #elxn43 – Day 41

Tom Petty said it best, ‘The waiting is the hardest part’

the waitingIn the days leading up to the Prime Minister walking from the Rideau Cottage to Rideau Hall and asking for disolution of Parliament, the wait seems like forever.  There will be many that will tell you that they’re happy to have the extra days. On the other side, there is nothing like the adreniline rush of 36 days of campaigning leading up to election day.

For me I appreciate both sentiments; but at some point its time for the rodeo to begin.  In Barrie we wait for the call because unlike other municipalities across Canada, election signs cannot go up until the Prime Minister visits the Govenor General (GG).   In the Ottawa area riding of  Orleans, by-laws have allowed signs to be put on private property for amost two weeks. In Barrie-Innisfil the sign crews are just waiting for the “go” text.  Trucks are loaded with signs, posts and zip ties.

The official election call is also a sign that everything else starts rolling, and gathers speed right up to October 21st.  As the days pass, they pass faster as the days are crossed off the election calender.

In an interesting twist, campaigns are not the only people waiting – Elections Canada staff also wait.  As I learned today, the ‘go’ day for Elections Canada is September 15th, that represents that last possible day as election can be called – but it’s also the day that EVERYTHING Elections Canada does starts and the first day for the Elections Canada calendar.

Unlike campaigns where the election call accelerates the campaign activities, nothing Elections Canada does starts until September 15ththis year – the 36 day campaign is the starting line that thousands of Election workers are hunched over like Andre de Grasse waiting for the starters pistol to go off. The spectulation of the election call changes everyday that the Prime Minister does not go to the see the GG, the anticipation for candidates and their teams is heightened as each day passes.

While Canada has fixed election dates, there should be consideration for a fixed election period, meaning a fixed election day that has a fixed day that campaigns begin.  A fixed election period eliminates the 78 day campaign of 2015 and denies the government of the day the power to play with dates and call the election when it suits their purposes – all political parties will have the same calendar to work with.  This though is for another government to grapple with after the election.

For now the wait continues…and the sign crew chomps at the bit one more day.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker& @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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My #elxn43 – Day 52

There is nothing like a blank open space into which a campaign office can be designed.

img_20190829_10190627587164478351558283.jpgI have seen some spectactular campaign offices, in 2008 when Brian McGarry, the Conservative Candidate in Ottawa Centre the old School Board offices/school building on Gilmour street served as his HQ.  The whole building was not used, many offices were utilized, but the hidden gem was the auditorium.  The “Aud” could house a few hundred people and had a beautiful stage.  It was used for a local rallys in 2008 and a couple of larger campaign events.  I have never seen any office since have anything like that space.

The campaign office is defined by the space available.  In the Ontario election last year Colleen McCleery had a beautiful home for an office.  It was a 2 story structure with a big basement.  Most activities were restricted to three large rooms on the main floor for sign storage, greeting space and a room for a few people to make phone calls and prepare for election day.  It was as homey and friendly as the campaign atmosphere was.

Each space has it benefits and its challenges.

This year I’ve the oppportunity to open two campaign offices.  Both spaces were leased before I arrived, and a campaign office was created out of each space.  In Orleans, for David Bertschi the campaign took over an old paint store.  When we arrived we found a rainbow of biege, ‘blah’ blue and purple on the walls.  With some paint, blue and white of course, the office was transformed – the fresh colours added energy to the space!

Moving to the new space in Barrie-Innisfil, the office is a ‘shell’ of an office.  Drywall and cynberblock are the décor.  Being stripped of any décor means that there isn’t much that would be damaged. On the plus side though there is plenty of natural light!

Every Campaign Manager has their own touches that they like to see or not see. I don’t like clutter. A campaign office has a limited time of use, clutter derails any effectiveness in the office.  I am also a huge advocate of the campaign calendar on the wall, and I mean ON THE ENTIRE WALL.  It’s a countdown to election day and it is the campaign at a glance – canvass times, meetings, voting days, events, debates and media time are all documented.  The calendar is a sign of accountability for the campaign.    If it’s on the calendar it’s important!

Our campaign office will be as plastic and waste free as possible, we’ll use water jugs and ask everyone to use personal refillable water bottles.  The same will be in place for coffee and tea, we’ll ask everyone to bring a mug or cup.  Just because the office is operational for a short periodof time doesn’t mean we become lazy when it comes to the amount of waste in the office.

The Barrie-Innisfil campaign office is in transition –  a work in progress, with many pieces needed to make it functional for the many that have different tasks to perform.  While  a campaign office is really only a temporary home, it is still a home that needs to be welcoming, functional and efficient.

Sadly, on October 22nd, we just take it all apart and await the next election to do it all again.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43, Day 53

img-20190828-wa00029003986068517925929.jpegIt’s 9am and I’m on Train 51 heading to Toronto and then north to Barrie Ontario.  This is my frst foray into leaving home to campaign.  All my previous campaigns, going back to the 2004 federal election have been local.  This election has me heading to the riding of Barrie-Innisfil to work with MP John Brassard, who I have been working with in Ottawa for three years, to secure his return to Ottawa after the October 21stelection.

This is not the only electioneering I’ve been doing though.

For the past 11 weeks I’ve been busy working with the Conservative candidate in the east end Ottawa riding of Orleans, David Bertschi.  David is a great candidate he works hard and goes non-stop; he has a dedictaed and hard working team with him.  Following his nomination win I worked with David and his team to set up a campaign structure, a strategy and bring in people I knew David Bertschi would like and trust to help him win and become the the next Mamber of Parliament of that riding.

I learn something from every election team I work with.  Previously, as a candidate in 2011 and 2104, I learned to listen to everyone and to turn a discussion around and present a new point of view.  As I campaign worker I took in what people were doing, watching and learning strategies.  I would learn to disect the end result and determine what led to a campaign’s success or failure.  And as a Campaign Manager I took the lessons I learned from being a campaign worker and candidate to bring a perspective that I would hope benefited the team I was leading.

I faced a new experience this summer, coming into a campaign as an ourtsider.  Oh, I knew the key people in the riding of Orleans, but I lacked the riding knowledge that everyone had.  I used their knowledge to lead me through ideas and strategies that would be put in place.  My experience as candidate really helped, I was relying on the team to teach me the what worked and what didn’t work.  After 10 weeks, I was happy with what was done to establish a team working towards one goal, winning.

I was proud of the people that came forward, listened to the plan and put their spin on what it would take to make Orleans a Conservative riding.  While I am heading to Barrie, Orleans will be a special place for me, there are great people there and I was really happy to be a part of that team for the summer.  The lessons learned in Orleans will be used in Barrie-Innisfil.

Now onto a new experience, again leading a team where I am the outsider but leading a team that has an incumbent.  This is definitely different from trying to unseat current MP, or take a riding back, this is a re-election campaign.  The dynamics are new, I know John Brassard, as the candidate, has a way of doing things – I’ve seen it for the past three years.  It will be about using all three experiences I’ve had and lead his team for the next 53 days until election day October 21st.

I hope you’ll follow my journey over the next few weeks as I share #elxn43.  This won’t be so much about the politics of the election, but the people, experience and the education I’ll have.

This is day 53, Day Zero will be here in a blink of an eye.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Watson turns the page, others haven’t

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Jim Watson has turned the page and has moved on from the fiasco that is all about the design of an addition that the owners of the Chateau Laurier what to pop on the site of the torn down parking garage.  Jim Watson has moved on, he’s moved onto to his LRT to the City of Ottawa gets the keys to the trains the middle of August from Rideau Transit Group.  He is getting the keys more than a year late and several missed deadlines later.

Jim Watson and 12 other councillors have moved on since Thursday July 11th when reconsideration of Councillor Fleury’s  motion to deny Larco, the owners of the Chateau Laurier their permit to build an addition.  Ten Ottawa City Councillors led by Mathieu Fleury, Heritage Ottawa and thousands of Ottawa voters that have signed petitions haven’t moved on, rather they’ve firmly planted themselves in a position that they hope will block backhoes from starting construction.

This story goes back years, the major sticking point is that City Council passed a heritage permit. The owners of the Chateau have presented five designs, all of which have been panned by the public, but have met the guidelines set out in the heritage permit.    The application has a few minor steps before ground can be broken and construction can begin on a design that has been called a car radiator.  City Council has the right to deny a permit to build if it doesn’t like the design, but in this case they didn’t, fearing a costly lawsuit.

It appears that a majority, maybe all of council does not like the design the owners are determined to build, but 14 voted to deny Fleury his opportunity, one last time, to have the permit revoked.  Mayor Watson must have let out a big sigh before he slid out the back door of council chambers to begin his vacation when the final vote tally was counted.
img_20180405_1541418638794165793251928.jpgI think the problem the public (and few public figures) has with the design is that the architects haven’t really veered far from design number one.  The fourth reiteration of the original drawing is still basically a box being stapled to a castle.  I’ve seen more imagination in the design of a building on a beach.

While Larco dreams of Bob the Builder, Councillors Fleury, Meehan, Deans, and others along with Heritage Ottawa and the Friends of the Chateau Laurier will be spending the time the Mayor is away looking to stop those dreams.  While all this planning takes place will the Mayor actually has a peaceful vacation with nothing on his mind?

 

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Ottawa Jazzfest: Norah Jones

norah 1

Photo by Jim McQuaid

I have discovered that one of the sweetest sounds in music is that of the Hammond organ.  It’s a mainstay of blues, early 70’s rock and at Ottawa Jazzfest Norah Jones had one in her band!  Topping it off, it was the opening sound of her concert, I knew it would be a great show.

For me Norah Jones did not disappoint, it was what I was expecting, as was my friend Glen who joined me that evening.  We lucked out on a good spot to put our chairs, the weather was perfect and through the evening I swayed to everything that Norah played switching between newer material and favourites from earlier albums.

Through the 90 minute set the fan favourites came out, and just as the appearance of the Hammond organ was a surprise, so was the musicianship of Ms. Jones (though I should not have been). While I am sure everyone was waiting for the hits from her debut Lp, she snuck “Come away with me” by stepping away from the piano and strapping an electric guitar around her neck and started the opening chords.  Well received was Sunrise, for which Norah played acoustic guitar along while mentioning that she “often plays this song at sunset”.

One of the strongest performances of the evening was on Neil Young’s “Don’t be denied”, which she played as part of her encore, it’s a song she has performed with Neil at his Bridge School concerts. Her version comes from her 2016 Lp ‘Day Breaks’, a critically acclaimed album that was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 50 Lps of 2016 and has an average rating of 4 stars.

One of the cutest moments of the evening came at a point in the show where three fire engines roared down Laurier Ave heading downtown.  Jones waited about 15 to 20 seconds for the fire trucks to pass before starting into ”Don’t know why” from her ‘Come with me’ debut album, the wait for it seems appropriate.

The band was tight and kudos go to her the musicians starting with keyboardist Pete Remm on the previously mentioned Hammond and other keyboards, Josh Latanzzi on bass and the grooviest drummer I have every seen play Greg Wieczorek, who had a groove going – he kept us moving all night long.

By the time the final strains of a very cool acoustic “Lonestar” floated into the night sky Norah was gone.  Me with Ms. Jones at Jazzfest was one of the most satisfying shows I’ve seen in a long time.  I got what I expected and more, including the sounds of a Hammond organ.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Ottawa Jazzfest: Chicago

Chicago Isle of Wight

This photo is from the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, and appears on the cover of the 2 LP set

It was a perfect Chicago evening, a breeze cooled the air as thousands filled every available square foot of real estate of Marion Dewar Plaza.  Liz and I brought chairs but didn’t sit in them during the show as there was a section of people standing on the cement pad which would have blocked us from seeing the band if se sat down.  I didn’t mind the standing, it was was worth it standing to see the band.

The original Chicago Transit Authority was repped by James Pankow (keyboards and vocals), Robert Lamm (Trombone) and Lee Loughnane (Trumpet, Flute and Vocals). Since the death Terry Kath there has been a many musicians that have called Chicago ‘home’.  Canadian Neil Donnel, the latest lead vocalist,  performed most of the vocals that were primarily sung by original Chicagoan Peter Cetera and later by Bill Champain in the David Foster era of hits such as “You’re the Inspiration”, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, “Look Away” and “Hard Habit to Break”.  It’s almost like the band looks for singers that can emulate that classic Cetera vocal style.

For the most part this was a hit laden concert, the horns figured prominently (as they should) musically and physically as Lamm, Loughnane and Larry Klimas (who has toured with the band since 2003) took centre stage through out the entire show.  Watching James Pankow weld his trombone like a guitar around the stage it shows that he along with the other originals still enjoy hitting the road.  This year marks 52 years of touring, Pankow (72 years old), Loughnane (73) and Lamm (75) don’t show signs of slowing down.  An extended percussion performance from the duo of Walter Reyes Jr. and Ramon Yslas as entertaining as it was, clearly was meant to give the band a break before the final stretch of the concert.

Musically the band hit most of the songs those attending wanted to hear including ‘Just You and Me’, the encore of ‘24 or 6 to 4’ a rousing ‘Saturday in the Park’, the previously mentioned David Foster hits and a fabulous “I’m am Man” and an amazing ‘Old Days’, one of the personal favourites from the band.

The concert as good as it was, was technically poor, some vocals were hard to hear, the video work was below par and the blending of camera shots on the screen was non-existent.

From this concert I went and purchased the 2018 release of the two LP set of Chicago at the Isle of Wight Music Festival.  Performed in August of 1970, included on the album were 5 songs performed in June of 2019 – including ‘Beginnings’, ‘I’m a man’ and ‘Does anyone really know what time it is’.  This weeks performance of ‘Does anyone really know what time it is’ was amazing; the opening horns of the the song brought everyone to their feet!

I’ll rate Chicago at Ottawa Jazzfest as 8 out of ten, 2 points lost because of technical shortfalls.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker & @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The Golden Rule of Social Media

Golen RuleThere are only weeks until the campaigning for the 43rd General Election in Canada starts. However the state of political discourse in Canada has never been as low as it is before an election as it is today. The language we’re speaking, the assumptions we’re making and the tone we’re using all are contributing to the discourse and really the anger in the conversations are at levels I have never heard before.

What are the origins of the new lows of our political discussions, where did we accept this behavior? Why do we accept this behavior? Have our leaders brought us to this point? Who do we hold responsible? Is all this because our new communication devices allow us, anyone to to have a personal soapbox? Our new communication freedom also brings millions of voices to us in a click.

There are voices that generate a lot of emotion, we all immediately think of @realDonaldTrump and his daily tweets – he generates strong reactions from supporters and opponents. In Canada our political leaders may not generate the same emotion, but Canadians are engaging. What concerns me is that we can’t engage without some people confusing opinion with information. As an example, this post and blog is based on my opinions and where ever possible I will insert information that support my opinion.

I cannot the only one concerned with this, I think that many Canadians share this with me, and now Parliamentarians must share this opinion as well; The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Parliament Hill is currently studying “Online Hate”. The committee has been hearing from witnesses since April. With Parliament approaching the summer recess the study will be wrapping up so that a report can be written and tabled before the House rises. The report will include recommendations that might be the basis for campaign promises during the upcoming election.

It is easy to compartmentalize hate as coming from one side of the political spectrum; one side claims to be on the side of good, automatically labeling the other as hateful. Online its easy, some people are faceless and nameless. Can you imagine if school playgrounds were treated the same as social media? If that were the case the principal’s office would have a line-up of combatants having to ‘explain themselves’ and their actions. If we never tolerated this type of activity in schoolyards, why do we allow it online?

I’ll wait for the report from the Justice and Human Rights Committee and read it with great interest. The committee heard from witnesses from many faiths, ethnic groups, LGBT groups, Gender groups, Human Rights, government departments and agencies and Individuals came and provided testimony. Will this provide an insight into how or if the government should regulate hate speech online.

Interestingly, the week the Justice Committee was meeting, the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy was also meeting in Ottawa. The second Grand Council of the committee was in Ottawa to have the tech giants talk about data security, #fakenews and privacy. The meeting had the understated question if FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) should be required to do more that they are? The meeting was overshadowed by the decision by Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg ignored a summons to appear in front of the committee.

Parents, teachers, principals, school administrators and others wouldn’t allow faceless and nameless bullies on school property during recess to harm the children, why do we tolerate them on social media where more harm can be done with words, images and videos – where people we don’t even know have access to influence others? Don’t we deserve a safe social media playground?

Isn’t it time we took into consideration the audiences, known and unknown, we have online and started to police our own words and actions and call out others who cross a line? Can’t we all use a better language online? Surely (mostly) everyone doesn’t use the same language in person that is used online. We all need to use the golden rule of social media, use the language you want used on your posts when you post and comment on others.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net